The average person makes about 35,000 decisions every day, which explains why so many people start their day off with coffee! It also explains why buying your first car can be so stressful. You’re already making a lot of decisions … and now you have to make even more.
Making things even more stressful is dealing with a seller who wants to put you in their car as quickly as possible. Can you trust them? How can you make sure you get the best deal? You don’t have to go it alone. We’ve got your back with 10 tips that will help you stand your ground when buying a used car.
1) Calculate what you can afford … and stick to it
Understanding how much car you can afford narrows your choices a lot, which is good since today’s used car buyer has plenty of cars to choose from. It also prevents you from being pressured into biting off more car than your budget can realistically afford. Try this auto loan calculator from the financial gurus at NerdWallet to help estimate how much you can afford.
2) Get the best car for your buck
Used car salespeople are in the business of moving inventory off their lot. That inventory might not always match up with the best vehicle for you and your budget. Check out our annual coverage of the best used cars under $10,000 to get a good idea of quality cars that have proven themselves to be both safe and affordable. You deserve the best car possible for your money!
3) Lurk in forums to get the inside scoop
“Lurking” means browsing a message board or forum without contributing any posts of your own. There are many such places dedicated to cars. Find one that discusses the make, model, and year that you’re interested in and see what other owners have to say. You’ll learn about problems that only current owners can speak to, which may help you avoid a price trap and give you more leverage when it comes time to settle on a price. For instance, let’s say the transmission in the 2010 truck you want tends to fail way before its time. The dealer may offer this truck model year at a rock bottom price to get it out the door. If you’ve been “lurking,” you’ll know to run far, far away from this price trap.
4) Don’t get “curbstoned”
You can buy a used car from a professional salesperson, an auction, a neighbor or someone who listed it on Craigslist. If you choose to avoid the local used car lot, beware of “curbstoning.” Road and Track defines “curbstoning” as a transaction that takes place at the curb in front of a house in a residential neighborhood: “The car’s perceived value is higher when being sold by an individual in a nice neighborhood than it would be when sold by a used car dealer in a bad part of town.” In some states, this tactic is used in violation of laws established to protect buyers like you.
5) Shop during off-times and in bad weather
This trick works especially well if you’re headed to a dealership. Shop during weekdays, in the early to mid-afternoon, and in cold weather and you won’t have to compete with other customers for test drives or good bargains. With demand seemingly low, the salesperson may be willing to cut you a sweet deal.
6) Go with a stick shift
Fewer and fewer Americans know how to drive stick these days, “so with a decreasing market among drivers, you’re likely to score a sweet deal on a used manual vehicle,” reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And when compared to their automatic transmission counterparts, continues the Review-Journal, manual transmission cars have traditionally been lower priced, get better gas mileage, and generally require fewer repairs. Now THAT’s what we like to call a great deal from beginning to end!
7) Dodge hidden problems before they scare you
A whopping 325,000 previously flooded vehicles might be on the road right now. That’s a 20 percent jump from 2016. Vehicles that suffer flood damage are difficult to sell. That difficulty motivates some sellers to hide that fact from potential buyers. Unaddressed recalls can be another problem, one that could put you in danger. Get the used car’s VIN number and check for flood damage or outstanding safety recalls before signing on the dotted line.
8) Inspect the car (very) closely
If everything goes according to plan, you’ll be driving this car for years. Maybe your son or daughter will even drive it after you! Know what you’re getting into by having a mechanic you trust inspect the vehicle. Popular Mechanics developed an exhaustive checklist to help you understand what to look for and even included “deal breakers,” or signs you should hit the ground running. If a salesperson does not okay a pre-sale inspection with a similar checklist, move on to our next tip.
9) Know that it’s okay to walk away
It doesn’t matter if the person trying to sell you a car has spent a lot of time answering your questions. It doesn’t matter if they tell you that they passed up a sale on account of you. It doesn’t matter if they’re disappointed. The one thing that matters is that you get the car you want at a price you can handle. If anything less is on the table, walk away.
10) Compare car insurance prices
The car-buying process can feel like a maze. Don’t let the twists and turns cause you to overlook the fact that a new car and car insurance go hand-in hand. Get an insurance quote today for various makes, models, and years to get a better sense for how much it will cost to own different vehicles.
When you get car insurance with Direct Auto Insurance, there’s no need for skepticism. Our agents work with you to make sure you receive all of the discounts you’re entitled to and that you’re set up with a customized payment plan that makes your auto insurance feel more affordable. Call 1-877-463-4732 to learn more today!
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